Established markets such as the U.S. and Western Europe are stagnant or declining and formerly booming countries like the BRICs are becoming more mature and competitive. Meanwhile, in Africa economic prosperity is increasing the size of the middle class. In addition, the political situation in many countries is stabilizing and investments are being made in technological infrastructure. The combination of these factors has made expansion in Africa very attractive for tech companies like Microsoft.
To take advantage of the opportunities in Africa, Microsoft has created the 4Afrika initiative. Through this initiative, the company will invest an additional $75 million annually for the next three years beyond its previously committed investments.
The growth of Microsoft in Africa will require efforts on several fronts. In terms of infrastructure, the company will work with the Kenyan government and a local internet service provider to increase access to low-cost and high-speed internet connections. Other goals of the 4Afrika initiative involve giving young people in Africa access to smart devices and helping to bring local small businesses online. In addition, skills and training will be provided.
Because PCs or laptops can be prohibitively expensive for African consumers, it is especially important for tech companies to establish themselves in the mobile market. For this reason, Microsoft is working with Huawei, a Chinese phone manufacturer, to introduce a special version of the Windows phone that is designed specifically for the African market.
Other tech companies, such as Intel, Google, IBM and HP, are following similar strategies to enter the African market. They have realized that in order for technology companies to be truly successful in Africa, many challenges have to be overcome and investments need to be made.
It is especially crucial for there to be improvements in terms of the educational level and skills of African workers and consumers. In addition, vast infrastructural improvements need to be made in terms of access to broadband connections as wells as their cost and speed. This is why all of these companies, like Microsoft, are getting involved in partnerships with governments, educational institutions and local communities.
Through their investments, tech companies are betting on the future development of Africa and hoping to obtain a significant return on their investments. Any efforts to help decrease poverty and improve the educational achievement and purchasing power of Africans will clearly be beneficial not only to the African people but also to the technology companies looking to expand their businesses there.
– Caroline Poterio Martinez
Source: Seattle Times